SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit to a $700 million project to build the nation's largest coal-export terminal in northwest Washington state.

The agency on Monday found the Gateway Pacific Terminal would interfere with the rights of Lummi tribal members to fish in their traditional grounds.

Seattle District Commander Col. John Buck said in a statement that the project can't be permitted as currently proposed.

The project, a venture between Seattle-based SSA Marine and Cloud Peak Energy, would handle up to 54 million metric tons of dry bulk commodities, mostly coal, at a deep water port at Cherry Point.

The Lummi Nation had argued that tribal members fish in the area, and that the federal government has a legal obligation to protect fishing rights secured in an 1855 treaty.

Project developers had asked that an environmental review that began in 2013 be suspended until the corps decision on the tribe's request.

More From KGAB